Category Archives: Youth

Forest Feature: Beavers

A beaver swims across a stream

The busy, busy beaver is our February Forest Feature.

Beavers, or Castor canadensis, are sometimes called the “engineers of the wild.” They are probably best known for the elaborate dams they construct across streams, flooding surrounding wetlands.

A beaver sits upright, clutching something in its paws.
A beaver, photographed July 4 2007 by
Flickr user @sherseydc (Steve Hersey), downloaded Feb. 4, 2019. This image is shared with the owner’s provision under the provisions of a Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA 2.0).

A beaver dam creates a pond that provides habitat for the beavers, and for many other aquatic creatures. Deer and other animals may forage for grass and shrubs that grow in small meadows beavers have created by harvesting wood to build with.

The dams are built from wood, mud, and rocks. Beavers cut down small trees by chewing through them. They may even dig canals to float those trees back to their pond!

A large beaver dam on the Fremont National Forest is photographed in this file photo from the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region archive.

The beaver is the largest rodent that is native to North America. A typical adult beaver is more than 3 feet in length, if you include their broad, paddle-like tail, and weighs more than 40 pounds!

You might be surprised to learn beavers don’t live inside beaver dams. A beaver’s home is called a “lodge” and is typically a large mound, also made from branches and mud, located upstream from a dam.

Lodges can have multiple entrances, which lead to an above-water den inside. They even have “skylights” – small holes near the top that lets in fresh air.

The Olympic National Forest’s Brown Creek Nature Loop circles a beaver pond, seen here in an April, 2017 USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region photo.

Beavers live in colonies of up to a dozen beavers, and a colony may have several lodges!

During the winter, beavers take a break from all their busy building. In places where it gets very cold, beavers will store food for winter at bottom of their pond, or swim out under the ice to harvest underwater plants.

After a few years, when beavers have eaten most of the food and felled the closest trees around their dam, the colony will begin looking for a new home. Once abandoned, the beaver’s dam quickly deteriorates and the pond recedes, revealing a new wetland or meadow covered with rich, newly-fertilized soil where plants will quickly grow.

Did you know?

  • A beaver’s front teeth are very strong, and are sharpened by their chewing.
  • Beavers have bad eyesight, but a strong sense of smell and very good hearing. They do most of their construction work at night.
A beaver chews on saplings at the Mendenhall Glacier Viewing Center in Alaska. USDA Forest Service photo.
  • A beaver has furry paws on their front legs that are good at grabbing and holding building materials, and webbed toes on their back feet that are excellent for swimming.
  • Beavers warn each other of danger by slapping their wide tails against the water.
  • A beaver’s tail also helps them balance when carrying building materials, and steer themselves while swimming.
  • A beaver can hold its breath while underwater for up to 15 minutes.
  • Beavers’ building benefits the environment in many ways, including protecting endangered salmon and their habitat. Young salmon and trout find protection from predators in the complex currents and mazes of logs and branches surrounding beaver lodges and dams. Debris piles leftover from former beaver dams and lodges also protects the streams and creeks running through them from erosion.

Education resources:

Video, info and fact sheets:

Activities:


Source information: Forest Features highlight a new Pacific Northwest species (or sometimes, a family, order, kingdom, or genus) each month as part of the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region’s regional youth engagement strategy.

If you’d like fact sheets, activities, or links to other educational resources about this topic – and for information about other ways the Forest Service can help incorporate environmental education and forest science in your Pacific Northwest classroom – email YourNorthwestForests@fs.fed.us.

In the News: Capitol Christmas Tree-lighting

Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen gives a speech during the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Capitol Building in Washington DC, December 6, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo by Cecilio Ricardo

In keeping with tradition, the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas tree, harvested from the Willamette National Forest’s Sweet Home Ranger District, was lit by the Speaker of the House (with help from Oregon 4th grader Bridgette Harrington) Dec. 6.

“This tree traveled 3,000 miles from Oregon, involving many different people of all ages and all walks of life, with events in many different communities, with celebrations along the way,” Vicki Christiansen, chief of the USDA Forest Service, said.

“Indeed, the entire journey, from the selection of the tree to its arrival in Washington DC reminds us of what we can accomplish if we unite for a common purpose. If we work together to sustain our nation’s forests, we can produce trees like this for generations to come.”

Below is roundup of media coverage as the tree completed it’s journey from Sweet Home, Ore. to Washington D.C., and the tree-lighting event.

Washington Post:

USA Today:

Albany Democrat-Herald:

Salem Statesman-Journal

The Oregonian / OregonLive:

Noble Pacific NW Christmas Tree Illumines Capitol Hill

The public gathers around U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree after being officially lit during Lighting Ceremony on the west lawn of the Capitol Building in Washington DC, December 6, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo by Cecilio Ricardo

A daytime view of the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, outside the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington DC. The tree was harvested from the Willamette National Forest in Oregon, on the Sweet Home Ranger District, and is decorated with some of more than 10,000 ornaments hand-crafted by Oregonians as a gift to the country. More than 70 smaller trees, adorned with more of these ornaments, decorate the inside of the building and other locations on the Capitol grounds. USDA Forest Service photo.

A daytime view of the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, outside the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington DC. The tree was harvested from the Willamette National Forest in Oregon, on the Sweet Home Ranger District, and is decorated with some of more than 10,000 ornaments hand-crafted by Oregonians as a gift to the country. More than 70 smaller trees, adorned with more of these ornaments, decorate the inside of the building and other locations on the Capitol grounds. USDA Forest Service photo.

With a brief countdown and the flick of a switch, the towering U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, on the West Lawn of Capitol Hill, lit up the dark.

Visitors from all across America, who stood in near freezing temperatures beneath the majestic pine, cheered as the tree’s thousands of lights glistened the ornaments made especially for it.

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Paul Ryan assists as 4th grader, Brigette Harrington shares her poem during the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Capitol Building in Washington DC, December 6, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo by Cecilio Ricardo

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Paul Ryan assists as 4th grader, Brigette Harrington shares her poem during the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Capitol Building in Washington DC, December 6, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo by Cecilio Ricardo

Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, handed over the honor of lighting the tree to Brigette Harrington, a fourth grader from Hillsboro, OR, who won an essay contest about Oregon’s outdoors sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, and the non-profit organization Choose Outdoors.

 

Following a tradition of nearly fifty years, set by the Architect of the Capitol, the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree comes from Forest Service -managed lands.

This year the Willamette National Forest in Oregon had the honors.

The massive tree is the first noble fir ever to be displayed on the West lawn of Capitol Hill as a national Christmas Tree.

Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen gives a speech during the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Capitol Building in Washington DC, December 6, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo by Cecilio Ricardo

Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen gives a speech during the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Capitol Building in Washington DC, December 6, 2018. USDA Forest Service photo by Cecilio Ricardo

Additionally, tree growers from Northwest Oregon donated 75 smaller companion trees to adorn government office buildings in the Nation’s Capital.

For well over a year, a team from the Willamette Forest planned the 3,000 mile journey from Oregon to Washington, D.C.— an adventure dubbed by much of the national media as the “reverse Oregon Trail.”

And the folks on the Willamette Forest are the first to point out that didn’t do it alone.

Thousands of volunteers from the Sweet Home District of the Willamette Forest, where the tree was harvested, plus more than 80 sponsors and partnering organizations, helped in a logistical effort that, no doubt, Santa Claus will present next year to his elves and reindeer as a best practice example of proper gift delivery.

And what a gift.

At 75 feet tall, with over 10,000 handmade ornaments from all over the state of Oregon, few gifts can match the outpouring of love this tree, fondly called “The People’s Tree” inspires.

Until New Year’s Eve, anyone visiting Washington, D.C. can come and admire the truly noble Christmas tree.

A nighttime view of the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, outside the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington DC. The tree was harvested from the Willamette National Forest in Oregon, on the Sweet Home Ranger District, and is decorated with some of more than 10,000 ornaments hand-crafted by Oregonians as a gift to the country. More than 70 smaller trees, adorned with more of these ornaments, decorate the inside of the building and other locations on the Capitol grounds. USDA Forest Service photo.

A nighttime view of the 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, outside the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington DC. The tree was harvested from the Willamette National Forest in Oregon, on the Sweet Home Ranger District, and is decorated with some of more than 10,000 ornaments hand-crafted by Oregonians as a gift to the country. More than 70 smaller trees, adorned with more of these ornaments, decorate the inside of the building and other locations on the Capitol grounds. USDA Forest Service photo.



Source information: Robert Hudson Westover works for the USDA Forest Service, Office of Communication. This story was originally posted on the USDA website, at: https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2018/12/07/noble-christmas-tree-illumines-capitol-hill

Forest Feature: Conifers

Frost on a Ponderosa Pine located on the Deschutes National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo.

This year, the Willamette National Forest continued the Forest Service’s 50-year tradition of providing the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree for display on the Capitol lawn, along the National Mall, in Washington D.C.

This year’s Capitol Christmas Tree is a noble fir, just one of many species of native Pacific Northwest conifer that are grown or harvested for use as Christmas trees each year.

Conifers are cone-bearing trees that feature needles, rather than leaves.

Dew condenses on the needles of a Douglas fir tree on the Ochoco National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo.

Dew condenses on the needles of a Douglas fir tree on the Ochoco National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo.

These trees are often very aromatic: pine, spruce, fir, and other conifers produce chemicals called “terpenes” that many people associate with our forests, fresh air, and time spent enjoying the great outdoors.

Many people think of conifers are “evergreens,” plants that keep their color and foliage all year. But that’s not always true! Some conifers, such as Douglas fir, are evergreens.  But others, like the Larch, are not – they shed their needles every fall.

Ponderosa pines hold a dusting of snow at Mt. Bachelor on the Deschutes National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo.

Ponderosa pines hold a dusting of snow at Mt. Bachelor on the Deschutes National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo.

Many Pacific Northwest conifers grow straight and tall, which makes our forests an excellent source of timber for lumber. Conifers are categorized as softwood trees. Timber from conifers is often used products like paper, cardboard, and the kind of board lumber used in many types of construction.

The noble fir’s symmetrical shape, silvery green needles, and stiff branches make it an excellent tree for hanging ornaments from. Douglas Firs and Grand Firs are other Pacific Northwest conifers that are also used as Christmas trees.

A child poses with a noble fir, harvested for use as a Christmas Tree, in this archival photo. USDA Forest Service photo.

A child poses with a noble fir, harvested for use as a Christmas Tree, in this archival photo. USDA Forest Service photo.

Did you know you can harvest your own Christmas tree on National Forest -managed lands? Permits can be purchased from your local forest or a local vendor – contact a district ranger’s office for the forest you want to visit for more information, or visit the forest’s website. Find a forest at www.fs.fed.us.

Fourth graders can receive a free holiday tree permit when they present their complimentary “Every Kid in a Park” program access pass at a Forest Service district office.

Women select a Christmas tree to harvest on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo.

Women select a Christmas tree to harvest on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo.

Conifers also bring us many other benefits. Like other trees, they absorb odors, carbon dioxide, and other pollutants. Their shade cools the mountain streams where salmon swim and spawn. On hillsides and river banks, their roots slow water runoff and hold soil in place, slowing erosion.

Living conifers feed birds with their seeds, and provide habitat and shelter for many wildlife species. Downed trees also provide food and habitat for wildlife and plants as the trees decay.

Pine trees dot the Chewaucan River valley on Fremont-Winema National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo.

Pine trees dot the Chewaucan River valley on Fremont-Winema National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo.

While conifers are a traditional source of lumber and firewood, researchers are developing new ways to use their wood for construction materials, fuel, and heating homes.

Cross-laminated beams and timber panels can build not just houses, but office towers. Wood pellets burn more efficiently and produce less smoke than logs. Processes like torrefaction and biochar can help wood burn even more efficiently, harnessing it’s energey as fuel to produce heat or even electricity!

If you look, you can probably find something in the room you are reading this in that’s made from a conifer. And if you go outside… you may not need to go far to find a conifer there, too!

More information:

An expanse of conifers rolls across distant mountain ridges, viewed from Bald Knob Lookout on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo.

An expanse of conifers rolls across distant mountain ridges, viewed from Bald Knob Lookout on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. USDA Forest Service photo.



Source information: Forest Features highlight a new Pacific Northwest species (or sometimes family, order, kingdom, or genus) each month, as part of the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region’s regional youth engagement strategy.

If you’d like more information about this topic, or other ways the Forest Service can help incorporate Pacific Northwest environmental education and forest science in your classroom, email us at YourNorthwestForests@fs.fed.us.

Teachers, mentors: Apply to celebrate International Day of Forests with United Nations in Rome

The 2019 theme for the International Day of Forests is “Forests and Education” and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations wants the world to know how you educate children and youth about the importance of trees and forests.

From the UN FAO website:

Today, more than half the world’s population lives in cities, and are increasingly disconnected from nature.

it is more essential than ever to bring an understanding and awareness of forests and their benefits into children’s lives at an early age.

We’re inviting teachers and non-teachers alike to send us a short video that shows how you provide children with a foundation to better understand the importance of forests and trees for our planet’s future.

The press release suggests taking video of “a traditional class, a field trip into the forest, an art or music lesson, or even a yoga class.”

Videos should 60 seconds or less, uploaded to YouTube, then submit the link via the entry form at http://www.fao.org/international-day-of-forests/teachers-contest/submission-form/en/.

Videos will be posted on FAO’s website, and the winner will join the staff at FAO headquarters in Rome to help celebrate the International Day of Forests on March 21, 2019.

Deadline for entries is Dec. 15, 2018.

For more information about eligibility, answers to frequently asked questions, and the submission form, visit:

http://www.fao.org/international-day-of-forests/teachers-contest



Source information: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger, achieve food security for all, and to make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. With over 194 member states, FAO works in over 130 countries worldwide.

‘Open Forest’ Christmas tree harvest e-permit pilot includes Mt. Hood NF

A screenshot from the welcome page on the Open Forest website: https://openforest.fs.usda.gov/christmas-trees/forests. The website will allow users on four National Forests, including the Mt. Hood National Forest, to purchase 2018 season Christmas Tree permits online. Image by USDA Forest Service.

SANDY, Ore. – The Mt. Hood National Forest is offering online Christmas tree permits through the Open Forest pilot program this holiday season!

The Mt. Hood National Forest is one of four National Forests participating in an online pilot program for holiday tree e-permits.

This pilot allows you to purchase your 2018 Christmas tree permit from the comfort of your own home, or by using your mobile device, instead of traveling to a Forest Service office or a local vendor.

These e-permits are good only for use on Mt. Hood National Forest, this holiday season.

Although purchased online, the permits must be printed to be valid.

You can learn more about purchasing your Mt. Hood holiday tree-harvest permit and gathering your Christmas tree online at: https://openforest.fs.usda.gov.

Holiday tree permits for all National Forests in the Pacific Northwest are also available at Ranger District visitor centers during regular business hours, and through many local vendors.

Permits cost $5 each; limit 3-5 permits per household (allowed quantities vary by forest, contact a local ranger district office for details specific to your area).

Safety advisory:

As the holiday season approaches, so does winter weather.  Weather changes rapidly at higher elevations and Forest Service roads are not maintained for winter travel. Carry traction devices, and be advised of winter road closures and any sno-park permit requirements (see Wash. Sno-Park and Oregon Sno-Park for info).

The Forest Service recommends you starting early in the day, and heading home well before dark. Here are some additional winter safety and holiday tree-harvesting tips:

  • Keep your family and your own safety in mind as you head out to look for a holiday tree; dress warmly and carry a forest map, snacks, and water.
  • Do not rely solely on your GPS, as electronic devices can stop working, or some information may not be accurate or up-to-date.
  • Bring items you’ll need to stay warm and dry, even if stranded outdoors without a working vehicle.
  • Have a trip plan; Make sure friends or family know where you are going, when you plan to return, and have a plan to contact law enforcement if you don’t arrive.
  • Remember to bring along a tool to cut your tree and rope or cord to secure it to your vehicle.
  • Don’t forget your first aid kit!
  • Our holiday tree webpage features a video with helpful hints for a successful holiday tree outing.

As a part of the “Every Kid” program, all fourth-graders can receive a holiday tree permit for free this season! They must have their Every Kid pass or voucher with them in order to receive their free holiday tree permit, and they must be accompanied by their parent or guardian. These special holiday tree permits can only be obtained at our official ranger district offices. For more information on the “Every Kid” program, please visit: www.everykidinapark.gov.

SWEET HOME TO DC: 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree team says ‘hello’ to Ohio!

The 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree arrives in Harrison, Ohio Nov. 23, 2018. Courtesy photo by the Joy Trip Project (used with permission).

Each year, a National Forest provides a Christmas Tree for display on the U.S. Capitol lawn in Washington D.C. This year’s tree is travelling from the Willamette National Forest’s Sweet Home Ranger District, in the western Cascade mountain range. District Ranger Nikki Swanson is recording her notes from the journey for the Your Northwest Forests blog.

To read previous entries, visit https://yournorthwestforests.org/category/capitol-christmas-tree/.

For more information, visit the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree website, www.capitolchristmastree.com, and story map: https://arcg.is/10DOyv

Track the tree! Follow the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree on its Return to the Oregon Trail journey in near real-time, at www.trackthetree.com


November 23rd, 2018
St. Louis, Mo.

Hello, Ohio!

We left the “gateway to the west” and headed due east 321 miles to Harrison, Ohio today. Its amazing how far away Oregon seems, both in space and time.

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The people of Harrison were amazed we had traveled so far, and seemed happy we chose to stop in their little town. We pulled into town to the cheers of over 3,000 people!

Harrison has a beautiful, nostalgic, historic downtown, and that’s where we conducted our last Capitol Christmas tree “whistle stop” event before the tree-lighting.

It was quite a scene! A men’s a cappella group sang as the tree rolled into town, accompanied by the clapping of the crowd. As soon as the tree stopped, several thousand people converged to sign the banners and to take pictures.

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I’m afraid I may have to adjust my view when I return to the real world. Throughout this trip people have offered us free coffee, food, and snacks.

The people of Harrison treated our entire team with our own tray of cookies from their amazing local bakery. So yummy!

People are so kind. You wouldn’t necessarily know it with what you see on the TV or in print, but it’s true; there is still a lot of kindness in the world. I feel so blessed to have seen it for myself.

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After dinner, our group went on an impromptu tour with a local historian to see the city’s underground tunnel.

President William Henry Harrison, who is buried nearby, was one of the proponents for the tunnel. He even sold his land to help pay for the tunnel’s construction. The tunnel was built from wood and brick, made from rock mined just outside the city. It was originally built to move water as part of the Whitewater Canal system, but has been has been used for many things throughout the years.

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Several people I talked to at the event said they were very happy to have the tree in their town.

They had many reasons.

Some people came to see their first noble fir tree, some came to sign the banner and add their name to the tens of thousands on our giant rolling “Christmas card,” others came to see some of the 10,000 hand-crafted ornaments Oregonians made to decorate the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree (and other trees in side the U.S. Capitol building).

Some said they came to see it because just could not miss this once-in-a-lifetime event.

Some came for the events offered for their children, like ice skating on plastic composite “ice,” and making ornaments for their tree at home.

And then there were those who came specifically to see the truck!

The Kenworth W990 is fresh off the show room floor, and wrapped in a special 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree design.  Delivering the tree to the U.S. Capitol is its maiden voyage. Presence, power and personal style wrapped in a world class design that redefines the long hood conventional truck cab, with plenty of room for snacks, like our very large box of cheese-its!

What a show-stopper!

What a wonderful way to finish our tour! Tomorrow we have a quick stop, and then we are on to Maryland for the night and to deliver the tree to Joint Base Andrews. On Monday, we’ll deliver the tree to the U.S. Capitol!

PS: Even though the “whistle stops” are over, I will continue to blog until the tree is lit on December 5th.

Nikki Swanson
District Ranger, Sweet Home Ranger District
Willamette National Forest

 

 

 

SWEET HOME TO DC: 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree team celebrates Thanksgiving in St. Louis

A Modern Day Adventure on the Historic Oregon Trail

Each year, a National Forest provides a Christmas Tree for display on the U.S. Capitol lawn in Washington D.C. This year’s tree is travelling from the Willamette National Forest’s Sweet Home Ranger District, in the western Cascade mountain range. District Ranger Nikki Swanson is recording her notes from the journey for the Your Northwest Forests blog.

To read previous entries, visit https://yournorthwestforests.org/category/capitol-christmas-tree/.

For more information, visit the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree website, www.capitolchristmastree.com, and story map: https://arcg.is/10DOyv

Track the tree! Follow the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree on its Return to the Oregon Trail journey in near real-time, at www.trackthetree.com


November 22nd, 2018
St. Louis, Mo.

Celebrating the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree at the St. Louis Thanksgiving Day Parade

It’s Thanksgiving Day, and I am 2,054 miles from home. But I’m thankful for the technology that allows me to correspond without the need for the Pony Express.

It’s harder than I thought it would be to be away from my family during the holiday, and I don’t think I was alone in feeling that way. Emotions were near the surface for many of us this morning.

But our day was brightened by the parade!

Here we are getting ready to hand out some Smokey swag to parade goers!

And here we are, making our way to the parade route.

What an amazing thing to be a part of! The St. Louis Thanksgiving Day Parade is the second largest Thanksgiving Day parade in the United States. It was broadcast on live TV, and occasionally the parade would pause for a commercial break.

There were nearly 150 entries, including the amazing animal balloons that are filled with helium. I had only seen those on TV before today. They are pretty cool on TV.  They are WAY COOLER in person.

Smokey Bear and firefighters from the nearby Mark Twain National Forest joined our entry. It was a toss up over who had the most fans between the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and Smokey Bear. Combined, I’m pretty sure they stole the show….. but, I’m only a little bit biased. Cries of “SMOKEY BEAR!” and “Look it’s the tree!” followed us along the entire parade route.

After the parade, we all ate together as a “tree team family.” We had a fantastic dinner.

Several people were heard to say that it was the best food they had ever eaten, from the butter, to the main course, to the desert. I, myself, have never remarked on the excellence of butter before tonight, but I was not alone in stating this particular fact out loud!

Some of us had traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner, and some ventured away from the holiday menu. But all enjoyed their meal!

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Following dinner, we dispersed to nap, exercise, or to call family back home.

After so many days and nights on the road, we’re all thankful to spend two nights in the same hotel and to have an opportunity to rest up a bit before the journey begins anew in the morning.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nikki Swanson
District Ranger, Sweet Home Ranger District
Willamette National Forest

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Tree permits on sale at National Forest offices

An evergreen adorned with handmade ornaments

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… time to visit your nearest national forest to find the perfect holiday tree for your home!

Christmas tree permits are available at National Forest offices and selected vendors throughout the Pacific Northwest for $5 each.

Each permit allows the holder to cut one tree in designated areas; each household can purchase up to a maximum of five permits.

For permit purchasing locations, contact your local national forest office (for a directory of USDA Forest Service offices in Washington and Oregon, visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r6/about-region/?cid=stelprdb5341313).

More information:

Don’t forget:

As part of the national Every Kid in a Park initiative, all fourth-graders are eligible for a free holiday tree permit from their USDA Forest Service office, for use on their local national forest.

EKIP holiday tree ornament coloring page

4th-graders: Click the image above to download a coloring page, with instructions to visit www.everykidinapark.gov for information about how to claim your voucher for a free holiday tree permit from the USDA Forest Service, and get a free annual pass to explore federal lands across the U.S. this year with your family!

Visit the Every Kid in a Park website at www.everykidinapark.gov for more information about how fourth-grade students can claim their free tree permit voucher and a one-year annual pass to explore national forests and other public lands across the U.S.

Holiday Tree Graphic_FB



Source: USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region public affairs staff

SWEET HOME TO DC: 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree completes Oregon Trail leg

A Modern Day Adventure on the Historic Oregon Trail

Each year, a National Forest provides a Christmas Tree for display on the U.S. Capitol lawn in Washington D.C. This year’s tree is travelling from the Willamette National Forest’s Sweet Home Ranger District, in the western Cascade mountain range. District Ranger Nikki Swanson is recording her notes from the journey for the Your Northwest Forests blog.

To read previous entries, visit https://yournorthwestforests.org/category/capitol-christmas-tree/.

For more information, visit the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree website, www.capitolchristmastree.com, and story map: https://arcg.is/10DOyv

Track the tree! Follow the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree on its Return to the Oregon Trail journey in near real-time, at www.trackthetree.com


November 21st, 2018
St. Louis, Mo.

We have completed the Oregon Trail portion of our journey!

Today, we reached Independence, Mo., where the Oregon Trail began.

Although we and the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree are not done with our journey, this marks a major milestone for us, as it means we have traveled the length of the entire Oregon trail during our trip.

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There is a monument, here, that to mark the starting point for the Oregon Trail.

It reads: “This monument honors the pioneer spirit of these courageous men and women who by their heroic trek across the continent established homes and civilization in the far northwest.”

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Ahead of those pioneers lay 2,000 miles of prairies, river crossings, mountains and whatever weather nature dished out. Ahead lay a dream of land ownership and a better way of life.

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A modern day “covered wagon”!

Independence, Mo. was a river port which specialized in outfitting travel along the Oregon Trail, and it was our first stop for the day.

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What a lovely event it was! There were wonderful people dressed in historic pioneer clothing that helped make covered wagon ornaments. The library provided maps of our route along the Oregon Trail, and read several pioneer stories to the children.

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Some days, the world seems smaller than others. Today was one of those days. I met a lovely couple who are good friends with the people who won the “find your ornament” contest on the Willamette National Forest’s Sweet Home Ranger District, where I work.

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I took their photo so their friend could see they were there. This sort of thing has happened throughout the trip, with family members signing the banner and then taking a photo to send to relatives so that they can sign in the same place at future stops.

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It continuously amazes me how connected we are, even when we are separated by 2,000 miles. I suppose similar experience happened to the Oregon Trail pioneers as they carved their name in a rock or left messages for those coming after them.

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After the Independence event, we traveled to the nearby Mt. Washington Cemetery because we heard that Jim Bridger’s memorial was there. Jim Bridger was such an instrumental part of the Oregon Trail story that we just HAD to go and see it. Not even a washed out bridge with a narrow crossing could stop us from our mission!

We found the grave site, and felt the power of connection once more. It was only a few days before that we stood in a snowstorm at Fort Bridger, where Jim advised and outfitted so many pioneers as they progressed on the trail.

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Our next stop was St. Louis, Missouri. Members of our tree team hurried, even jogging part of the way, to attempt to reach the Gateway Arch before it closed for the day!

We didn’t make it in time to go in the arch, but we were able to go into the museum and to explore around the arch.

It was a beautiful night with a nearly full moon and the place seemed absolutely enchanted.

The arch is an engineering masterpiece! It is so amazing.  This is a place I will return to, when I have more time to explore.

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The museum under the arch was also incredible. St. Louis is often referred to as the Gateway to the West because it was a popular gathering area for many people who later settled in the western territories.

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The museum had many exhibits and some great video of what life on the Oregon Trail might have looked like, as well as several first hand account displays of what life was like during the great human migration to the west.

Nikki Swanson
District Ranger, Sweet Home Ranger District
Willamette National Forest

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